While staying at CHEP, Navy veteran Henry Cabano incorporated his company. Cabano said he got two words of counsel from CHEP’s program manager that focused his efforts during days of strife.
“Those words,” said Cabano, “were ‘Be Patient’.”
Cabano, 36, a native of Norfolk, VA, boasts that he is “part Mexican, part Apache, and part Yaqui.” His Native American/Mexican mixture gives him a distinctive appearance of a high mahogany brown skin tone set off by sharp features.
The middle of three boys raised by his mother, he became a Navy enlistee in 1988 where he became an Aviation Boatsman Handler who helped launch aircraft on amphibious assault ships such as the USS Guadalcanal. A serious injury sustained performing his duties caused him to muster out in November of 1990.
Always an exceptional carpenter, Cabano’s affinity for construction work stood him well as he landed jobs over the years in Texas, Arkansas ,New Jersey, Florida and Louisiana. In 2001 while in Tampa, FL, Cabano “had a dream.”
He wanted to form his own company. He had become adept with all procedures involving concrete – foundations, paving. reinforcement, design and installation, treatment and repair and more.
Cabano began mastering other areas as well, such as cost and risk analysis, contractor/sub-contractor supervision, and federal/state building regulations.
In 2007, he incorporated H.S. Cabano Concrete and Carpentry LLP in Marrero, LA. By the next year it was declared “The fastest growing company of 2008” by the state’s Hudson Initiative, which was set up to encourage small business creation. In the same year, then Governor Bobby Jindal called it one of the year’s top 10 contractors.
The very next year catastrophe struck.
“I lost it all,” remembered Cabano, “ after I cut my arm to the bone doing roof work.”
Five employees had to be let go. His third marriage fell apart.
After a long recuperation, Florida beckoned. While there he enrolled in Ft. Lauderdale’s Broward College where he majored in civil engineering. Another personal slump, exacerbated by his injury, brought Washington, DC into his orbit.
“Beginning in 2016, I stayed in a shelter and did laborer jobs during the day.”
Cabano found CHEP in September of 2016 and hasn’t looked back. While there he became a familiar figure signing out at 5 a.m. to board the A6 bus at the corner while loaded down with a bucket,
shovel and tool belt. He consulted Craigslist nightly to come up with the jobs. The hustle and bustle, however, was beginning to frazzle him. He felt as if he was spinning wheels.
And then, those magical two words.
“Mr. Strong [Michael Strong, CHEP DC Vets Program Manager], got my attention by looking me in the eye and saying ‘Be Patient.’ He gave the words a quiet power at a time he knew I needed them.”
Shortly after, an ad appeared asking for a job estimate that Cabano quickly responded to. He won the contract. Word got out that Cabano was super reliable based on that contract and, accordingly, he was pursued by a contractor who offered him a permanent job. Cabano was leery because he wanted to do more than just pull a day’s work, he wanted to pull on his full range of talents.
He solved that by forming his own company, HSC, in November 2016 while he was still living in the CHEP building. He remained until May of this year. After leaving CHEP, he absorbed the company that wanted to hire him. Cabano made the owner of the dissolved company his new operating officer.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for CHEP. They are dedicated to the work ethic and will do whatever is needed to get you on your feet,” said Cabano.